Labs and facilities
The University is served by a gigabit ethernet LAN and our School has its
own gigabit backbone. Standard network connectivity is 100Mbit/second.
We provide six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and
electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7. Students have free
access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in
Our labs are managed by an experienced and dedicated team of technical
support staff who can assist students with most practical aspects of the
curriculum. The computers run either Windows 7 or are dual boot with Linux.
Much software is common to both systems (e.g. Java, Prolog, C++, Perl,
Mysql, Matlab, DB2), but there is also platform-specific software such as
Microsoft Office, Visual Studio and Project. We also provide Linux systems
for remote connection through either a secure shell (SSH) connection, or via
a remote Xsession (a Windows-like graphical interface). There is also
specialised software installed such as computer-aided design tools and
simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OPNET).
In addition to our School's labs, students are entitled to use the
University's IT labs. Research
students are provided with office space and dedicated equipment so they do
not need to use the labs.
Brain-Computer Interfaces Laboratory
Our Brain-Computer Interfaces Laboratory is one of the best-equipped for
non-invasive BCI research in Europe, receiving more EPSRC funding than any
other UK BCI lab as well as substantial support from other bodies. It
- eight EEG systems;
- a near infra-red system;
- a Nexus EMG system;
- a Jazz eye tracker;
- a MagStim BitStim transcranial magnetic stimulator;
- many electrogoniometers and accelerometers;
- two Edubot robotic manipulators;
- three Lego NXT robots;
- three VR systems;
- four Bionics motorised medical chairs; and
- a Viglen/Rocks cluster.
We do not conduct any research with animals or with implanted devices in
Embedded and Intelligent Systems Laboratory
Our Embedded and Intelligent Systems Laboratory has state-of-the-art
design and prototyping facilities for embedded systems design and
system-processing architectures. Its equipment includes:
- several very high gate count top-end FPGA boards;
- many processor architectures;
- advanced development kits and iOS/Android devices; and
- sensors and actuators to design real-world prototypes.
Intelligent Environments Laboratory
Our Intelligent Environments Laboratory hosts an iSpace testbed for
intelligent environments and pervasive computing, and the iClassroom testbed
for intelligent learning environments. These testbeds house indoor
localisation systems, smart boards, immersive displays, various sensors,
actuators and computing equipment used in our EU, EPSCR and industrial
Our Robotics Laboratory offers dedicated space for indoor robots. Our
Robot Arena is one hundred square meteres in area and has a six metre high
ceiling to accommodate flying robots. It has one of the world's largest
powered lab floors for long-duration experiments with mobile robots.
We have invested over £1 million in equipping this state-of-the-art
facility with robotic systems which include:
- thirty wheeled mobile robots;
- eight flying robots;
- three robotic fish;
- three intelligent wheelchairs;
- one robotic arm; and
- one robotic hand with five fingers.
A VICON optic motion tracking system with nine infrared cameras is fixed
on the ceiling and provides reliable location information so that the
performance of the developed robots and navigation algorithms can be
Communications systems labs
Access Networks Laboratory
Our Access Networks Laboratory has state-of-the-art wireless and system
measurement tools. These include a top-of-the-range 100GHz sampling scope, a
40GHz real-time signal analyser, a 67GHz vector network analyser, a 40Gb/s
data test-set and a 400Gb/s optical sampling head.
Network Convergence Laboratory
Our Network Convergence Laboratory maintains a well-equipped research
network testbed that consists of electrical and optical core networking
technologies and heterogeneous wireless access networking technologies
across our University campus and the surrounding areas. Facilities for
software-defined networks (radio or wire) and sensor networks are also
Network Multimedia Laboratory
Our Network Multimedia Laboratory operates as an interdisciplinary
facility with a focus on research and development of efficient deployments of
ultra-high-definition multimedia applications over networks. Its facilities
include a set of 4K, 3D projectors and a set of high-resolution audio
equipment associated with it, and a set of 8K projectors. Each is connected
locally to a cluster of high-performance servers for video rendering and to
the outside world via 10 gigabit ethernet and high-speed optical fibres.
Our Optoelectronics Laboratory houses:
- lasers, detectors and optical components for optical spectroscopy of
semiconductor devices from IR to UV wavelengths;
- various cryostats and kits for electronic transport measurements in
semiconductor devices from T=1.3k to 300k;
- optical spectroscopy with 100 picosecond resolution;
- electronic transport measurement facility with 1ns time resolution and
up-to electric fields of 250 kV/cm;
- a clean room; and
- a micro-fabrication facility.
RF and Microwave Research Laboratory
This laboratory is equipped with a wide range of specialised equipment
for radio-frequency measurement and testing including network analysers
(6GHz, 40GHz, 75GHz), a scalar analyser, a spectrum analyser, antenna test
facilities (4 to 20GHz) and power meters (low frequency to 60GHz). There is
also a powerful microscope and a computer-controlled scanner for material
Commercial software used in the laboratory includes ADS, HFSS, TLM, and
Microwave Studio, and there is also in-house developed custom software for
filter design. The laboratory makes use of the printed circuit milling
facility for the production of microstrip circuits.
Printed circuit milling facility
A facility to manufacture prototype printed circuit boards is essential
for an electronics school, both for research and for student projects. In
the past many departments have used a wet etching process, whereby unwanted
areas of copper are etched away by corrosive chemicals. This is the same
process used for mass production, as it is relatively quick. However, it is
also environmentally undesirable.
The method currently employed by our School uses a computer controlled
milling machine, which creates isolation channels around tracks and devices.
Larger areas of copper can also be removed to give a traditional look by
using the appropriate tools. The milling machine also has the advantage of
being able to drill multiple holes automatically, eliminating the lengthy
process of drilling manually.
Semiconductor clean room
The cleanroom has the essential equipment needed to create semiconductor
devices such as light emitters and receivers from novel wafer structures.
Electrical connections are made with gold wires thinner than a human hair
using wirebonders and other bonding techniques used by worldwide
The devices made in the facility may have etched features with dimensions
smaller than a micrometre. Thin film contacts and waveguides for the devices
are deposited by a vacuum coating system. The contact metals (gold and
dopants like germanium, tin, magnesium and zinc) are annealed to make the
ohmic and Schottky contacts needed for devices like MESFETs.